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3 Shot Dead in Miracle Mile Area

Police question two men. One of the victims found in a fourth-floor bathroom is 6 years old.

May 06, 2003|Monte Morin | Times Staff Writer

A mother, her 6-year-old son and a female housekeeper were found shot to death in the bathroom of their Miracle Mile apartment Monday evening, and two unidentified men were being questioned, Los Angeles police said.

Police and residents of the complex were alerted to the killings when a visitor discovered the bodies and began screaming. Authorities described the victims only as Korean Americans and confirmed that at least one of the men detained for questioning was also Asian American.

The bodies were found on the fourth floor of an apartment complex at 630 S. Masselin Ave., just south of the towering Park La Brea complex. Police spokesman Jason Lee said the mother appeared to be in her late 20s. The victims' names were being withheld pending notification of relatives.

Police Sgt. John Pasquariello said a call was placed to 911 about 6 p.m., either by the woman who made the discovery or by a neighbor who heard her screams.

"This is a very sensitive investigation," Pasquariello said.

Several neighbors said they watched police lead a man away from the complex in handcuffs at around 6:30 p.m. He was placed in the back seat of an idling police cruiser.

Pasquariello released few details during a brief news conference. He would not identify the men who had been detained and said only that police are talking to "some people."

Neighbor Donald Bass, who lives several houses from the apartment complex, described one of the detainees as a "young guy," 35 to 40.

Other neighbors reported seeing a man of a similar description sitting handcuffed in a police cruiser in front of the five-story complex, named the Renaissance Apartments. .

In the evening, the quiet street near the Grove shopping complex reverberated with the sound of police and media helicopters. Residents of the 600 block of Masselin who arrived home after their street was cordoned off were not allowed in. Neither were those who had parked cars on the block.

Tonya Nelson, 29, of Corona, who works in advertising, said she parked on Masselin at about 4:30 p.m. to go to a meeting in a Wilshire Boulevard office building around the corner. When she returned, police told her that she might not be able to get her car until after midnight. Her fiance arrived after 8 p.m. to pick her up.

Some residents of the Renaissance Apartments managed to leave even though police told them no one could enter or exit. Raul Espinoza, 40, said he wanted to go out for dinner. So he left by an exit police weren't watching.

"We weren't supposed to go anywhere. I tried two times to go to the lobby," he said. "But they were sending everyone back to their apartments. So I snuck out the back way."

*

Times staff writers Nita Lelyveld, Jose Cardenas and Jill Leovy contributed to this report.

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